One of the main reasons we clean our homes is to make them healthier for us to live in. But does it really make sense to use cleaning products that are more hazardous to your health than the bacteria you’re trying to kill?
Cleaning products are big business. According to the website Statistica, the America cleaning products industry (laundry detergents, lime/rust removers and various all purpose cleaners) was forecasted to generate around $61 Billion in 2016. The website StatisticBrain breaks that down to an average of $42 per month spent on cleaning supplies by the average American household.
You’re already likely aware that many cleaning products contain chemicals and other ingredients that are definitely not supportive of good health. Inhaling the fumes and absorbing these chemicals into your skin while using them is a guaranteed way to add to your body’s toxic burden. Not to mention the damage that can occur if these products accidentally get in your eyes or are swallowed.
As it turns out, “cleaning substances” are the second highest reason for calls to U.S. Poison Control Centers on behalf of children under the age of six − and #5 on the list for exposure by adults. (If you’re curious, cosmetics & personal care products lead the list for the most common substances implicated in pediatric exposures. This is yet another reason why it pays to make your own personal care products such as toothpaste, shampoo, and body wash.)
Non-Toxic Cleaner Alternatives
White vinegar (acetic acid), lemon juice, borax, baking soda, and essential oils are all safe, non-toxic cleaning products that can be combined in various ways for all sorts of household cleaning tasks. Best of all, your risk of toxic exposure from these cleaners is extremely limited AND you’ll likely save money. Tip: Most white vinegar for sale at the grocery store is 5% acetic acid, but some brands offer a 6% or 7% vinegar which offers more cleaning power.
To get started with DIY non-toxic cleaners that are better for your health and the environment, here is a simple all-purpose cleaner recipe for hard surfaces. Simply spray, let the cleaner sit for a bit (longer for tougher dirt and grease), and buff off with a cloth − using as much “elbow grease” (pressure) as necessary to remove dirt and grime.
Tea tree essential oil and lemon essential oil are both renowned for their cleaning and disinfectant properties. An added plus is that while you’re cleaning you’ll also be inhaling their beneficial scent − instead of the harsh chemical fumes from most cleaners. Feel free to substitute orange or grapefruit for the lemon essential oil (or use a combination), as all three citrus oils have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Recipe used with permission from "Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine For The Modern World"
- 8 ounces water
- 4 ounces white vinegar
- 15 drops tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil
- 15 drops lemon essential oil
- In a glass spray bottle, mix all ingredients.
- Swirl or shake the bottle before each spray.
- Spray surface, and wipe with a clean, dry cloth. For tougher dirt and stains, let mixture sit longer. (Always test surfaces first in an inconspicuous spot before using cleaner all over.)